Sunday Sermon: ‘Grounded in the Truth’

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A number of years ago George Barna reported that nearly 2/3 of all adults in America believe that there is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to moral behavior. To them, truth is always relative to each person and their situation. This rejection of moral truth is even greater among teenagers. In that same report Barna said: “83%… said moral truth depends on the circumstances, and only 6% of whom said moral truth is absolute.”[1]

Yet Jesus said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Jesus believed in absolute moral truth. He taught absolute moral truth. And He lived absolute moral truth. As a matter of fact, Jesus declared that He was the absolute truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) If you want to know the truth, study the life and words of Jesus.

With that in mind, please take your Bible and turn with me to Matthew 7.

Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

I use this passage of scripture almost every time I do pre-marital counseling. My goal is to help young couples understand just how important it is that they build their homes on God’s truth. In this parable we see two men building a home. We also see both men encountered a terrible storm. And we read that only man’s house survived the storm while the other man’s home crashed.

I always tell these couples that they are going to face storms in life. Whether or not our homes survive these storms depends upon whether or not Jesus is our foundation. Look again at vs. 24

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock…

Notice that the wise man not only heard what Jesus said; he obeyed it. He put the words of Jesus into action. On the other hand, notice what the foolish man did.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…

The foolish man heard the same messages that the wise man did, but he failed to put Christ’s truth into action. Unfortunately, when the storm came, he had nothing solid to stand upon.

Having said all of that, let’s turn once again to Acts 2 and see how Jesus began to build His church. If you can remember back to my last message from Acts 2, we saw Peter preaching to the crowds on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and empowered them to speak in other languages. This aroused the curiosity of the crowd and caused them to search for the reason. Peter explained to them that this supernatural power was a demonstration of God’s verification that Jesus was His Son who had been crucified for our sins. We pick up the story in again at verse 36.

Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

What an amazing event! That day the church went from one hundred to over three thousand. Then we read –

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Today I want us to focus upon the early church sitting under the teaching of the apostles.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…

I. The Source of Truth

In order to faithfully live the Christian life, there must be a solid source of truth. The Bible says that the early Christians devoted themselves to sit under the teaching of the apostles. Perhaps this story will illustrate the power of God’s Word.

Most of you know that Billy Graham went home to be with the Lord this week. His ministry has and continues to have a tremendous impact upon my family. Tammy began to receive the Decision Magazine when she was very young. The other day I read a story from one of the issues that illustrates the power of God’s Word. The Title of the article was: ‘DON’T EVER READ THAT BOOK.’ [2]

It seems that there was a boy named Hassane who was raised in Niger, Africa. His father was a very devout Muslim who hired a private tutor to teach his two sons about the Islamic faith. When Hassane and his twin brother were twelve, they were sent off to boarding schools to further their education. Just before Hassane left for school his tutor told him, “At school you’re going to meet some people called Christians. No Christian can take away your faith. But they have a book, a black book. Don’t ever read that book.” Of course, we know that black book is the Bible.

The school Hassane attended had over eight hundred boys. “Hassane said he was very surprised by two things when he arrived at the school. First, the mosque there was not full during worship times. And more troubling, he learned that there were three Christians enrolled.”

“Hassane decided he would start a Quranic school among the student body as a way to increase opposition against the three Christians. He found an empty classroom and began teaching. One day while Hassane was teaching on the various prophets claimed by Islam, two Christian students entered the class and sat down. When discussion time came, Hassane began asking questions of the class and one of the Christians raised his hand, answering with more detail than even Hassane had been taught. He was stunned and assumed the student had been studying and was ready to become a Muslim. Hassane went to see the young man that night, and after the student clarified that he was a Christian, he mentioned something that Hassane had only heard about once but never actually seen: the Christian holy book.”

Though Hassane had been warned to not read the Bible, he went to the library and found a copy and over the next three and one-half years he secretly read it. One day he came to Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Hassane confessed that he was “troubled by the grace he saw in Scripture and his own arrogance and sense of self-righteousness at trying to earn Allah’s favor…” He prayed, “God, if what I read is true, I want that salvation. If this is true, I want to be a Christian.”

After Hassane became a Christian, he wrote to this brother to tell him. But instead of celebrating his new-found faith, his brother threatened to kill him. Hassane wrote back, “You are still my brother and I love you, I want you to become a Christian also.”

Out of respect for their father, the Muslim leaders decided that Hassane’s brother should live with him in order to try to convince him to return to Islam. For the next ten years the two brothers lived together. Hassane said, “Every day that I woke up I said, ‘Praise God, I am still alive.’” One day his brother came to him and said, “Hassane, I have become a Christian.” “How?” Hassane asked him. His brother said, “I am watching whatever things you are doing and I want to be like you. And I know that it is Jesus who has helped you become who you are.”

The Bible is more than a religious book. It is alive, powerful and active. Last week Pastor Bruce read these verses:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The word ‘inspiration’ literally means ‘in-breath’ or ‘to blow into.’ The Greek word used here means: ‘God breathed.’ It’s a mystery how God was able to give His revelation to man. Concerning this inspiration Peter wrote: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Peter 1:21) The words Peter used here refers to wind filling the sail of a boat and pushing it across the lake. Apparently, the Holy Spirit came upon these men and filled their minds with the truths God wanted them to know. The Bible says that even sometimes, while they were writing out these revelations, they wondered what they really meant. (see 1 Peter 1:11)

One thing I have realized this week is that the same Spirit who guided these men thousands of years ago to write these eternal truths, takes them today and teaches us. When something from the Bible speaks to you, it is God the Spirit speaking to you.

Notice also what will be the result of faithful study of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The Bible will prepare us to do everything God calls us to do.

II. The Seeking of Truth

As God was revealing Himself to the church, the new believers were soaking it up like sponges. Perhaps Peter thought of these days when he wrote: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Peter 2:2) Have you ever been around a baby when it got hungry? It doesn’t matter where you are at or what time of the day it is, when a baby gets hungry, everyone knows it. A hungry baby cries out at the top of its lungs.

Solomon wrote to his son: “My son, if you will call out for insight… if you cry aloud for understanding… if you will seek for it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure… then you will understand the fear of the LORD and you will find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2)

Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Monday morning, I awoke with a troubled spirit and so I came to my office and began reading God’s Word. What I needed wasn’t something for another sermon, but a word from God for my soul.

I started out sitting at my desk, but in only a few moments I was lying flat on the floor with my Bible open before me. I read and prayed. I prayed and read. While I would be praying, I could sense the Spirit leading me to other passages of scriptures and so I would read them and then pray over them as well. Soon I had to get a highlighter and start highlighting verses. Then I had to get a pen and a notebook. I read, prayed, cried, highlighted, made notes, circled words, and went from one passage to the next. To be honest with you, it was an amazing blessing for me.

III. The Spirit of Truth

For most of us, there are parts of the Bible that are deep and difficult for us to understand. Yet we have the Holy Spirit is us to teach and to guide us. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit…

A major part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the Word of God. Paul goes on to write:

1 Corinthians 2:10 For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

As I read and prayed over God’s Word this past week, the Spirit spoke to me. He confronted me concerning sinful areas in my life, and He encouraged me. I sat down one day and made a list of how the Spirit uses the Word of God in my life.

The Bible is:

A mirror that reveals who I really am

A fire that burns away all the superficiality of my Christianity

A surgeon’s scalpel that God uses to cut deep into my inner most being in order to expose my sin and heal me

A hammer that God uses to tear down walls and break spiritual strongholds

The Bible is also:

Bread that gives me the spiritual nourishment for my soul

Water that can cleanse my heart and mind

Light that gives me guidance and direction

Medicine that heals my soul when I am hurting

A friend that brings me comfort

A counselor that gives me clarity

A sanctuary where I can rest in peace

A rock upon which I can build my life

A refuge where I can feel safe

An anchor that is always secure

A shield that protects me from the enemy’s invasion

A sword that will make him flee

A song that causes my heart to sing

III. The Savior of Truth

If you had to summarize the Bible into one verse, what would that verse be? Some have said that verse should be John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  

The story of scripture is God’s love for the world that is in bondage to sin. God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son to be our Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus is ‘the way’ because He is the only way to God and to heaven. Today there are many who are trying to tell us that there are many ways to God. There are many who are trying to say that all religions are equal and therefore valid. Yet Jesus said: “No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

Jesus is also ‘the truth.’ The birth of Jesus and His death on the cross teaches us the truth about the holiness of God and our need for salvation. The Bible says that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23) Jesus is the way and the truth.

Jesus is also ‘the life.’ Jesus said: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Satan wants to deceive us with his lies and rob us of our life. He robbed Adam and Eve when he deceived them into believing that disobeying God was the right thing to do. From that day forward, their lives were filled with pain and sorrow. Yet Jesus said that He has come that we might have life and life more abundantly. Through Jesus Christ, we can have eternal life and abundant life.

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[1] https://www.barna.com/research/americans-are-most-likely-to-base-truth-on-feelings/ February 24, 2018

[2] https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/december-2017/dont-ever-read-book/   February 24, 2018

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